United Way of San Diego County (UWSD) continues to observe our Centennial Celebration by highlighting each decade with this month’s salute to the 1970s, a time full of innovation and incubation.
In 1973, we adopted the name United Way of San Diego County in keeping with national trends. During the 70s, UWSD flourished thanks to growing relationships with local companies and their workplace campaigns. We joined forces with 11 local affiliates to create the Combined Health Agencies Drive (CHAD). Then in 1975, UWSD helped create The San Diego Foundation. The following year, we helped launch the San Diego Community Leadership Development Program, a predecessor of LEAD San Diego. United Way also created a volunteer bureau to help people get involved in community service. Last but not least, during this era, Guideline was created, a countywide information and referral service that later became 2-1-1.
This year, in conjunction with the Centennial anniversary, UWSD expanded our Day of Action work to a month-long campaign to bring awareness of food insecurity as well as support vulnerable senior citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each June, United Ways across the globe participate in Day of Action, a day to address and tackle a variety of challenges that communities face. It is a day that United Ways ask their community members to help put the mission into action by volunteering to improve the building blocks for a good quality of life – education and family stability.
In addition to bringing attention to National Hunger Awareness Month, UWSD team members and partners from the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council honored the staff of Unions United with a surprise no-contact parade that doubled as a food drive. To help support the mission of the food pantry, we hosted a month-long virtual food drive to help restock the pantry! The staff members in the emergency on-site food pantry have provided over two decades of commitment and support to those vulnerable in our community. They have been working hard everyday face to face with clients throughout this pandemic.
Not only did we celebrate the Unions United team, but that weekend UWSD staff and volunteers joined the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council for a food distribution at SDCCU Stadium, providing over 640 individuals and families with produce and canned goods during these unprecedented times.
Now, more than ever, seniors need to remain safely in their homes. Many seniors are at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and cannot venture out to find basic hygiene and personal care items. This year with the expanded Day of Action, UWSD collaborated with ElderHelp, a local nonprofit whose mission is to help seniors remain independent and live with dignity in their own homes, to assemble personal care kits. Volunteers were given supplies to take home, assemble, and instructed to return the completed kits to ElderHelp’s building. All coordination efforts, including picking up and dropping off the kits, were a no-contact transaction. Our eight volunteers put in 25 hours of service to supply ElderHelp with 300 kits for their seniors!
During these challenging times, United Way, with the help of individuals like you, can continue our impactful work as we have for the past 100 years for those in need in our community.
Written by: Alli Temnick, Senior Development Executive, UWSD
In celebration of our Centennial Year, United Way of San Diego County (UWSD) is revisiting our history by highlighting a different decade each month. This month, we are taking a closer look at the 1960s, which was a pivotal and transitional decade in history.
The population of San Diego grew by 30% during the 1960s, and the city transformed to accommodate its increasing size. The formerly dilapidated downtown area became the focus of an urban renewal project that resulted in the Gaslamp Quarter. The Mission Valley Shopping Center and Sea World were built, as well as the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge. In addition to new construction, the city gained prominence when the American Football League Chargers started their first season in the fall of 1960 and the minor-league San Diego Padres became a Major League Baseball team in 1969.
With all of these changes in mind, it is probably not surprising to learn that the 1960s was a transitional decade for United Way as well. As the decade began, fundraising had stalled and local leaders began to lose confidence in the organization. Community leader James “Jim” Mulvaney created a committee to discover the source of the problem. The committee recommended increased partnership in the community and, as a result, United Community Services of San Diego County was formed in 1962. In 1965, this partnership was bolstered by the addition of the Combined Federal Campaign which allowed federal employees to give to the community through United Way. The next seven years brought increased growth in fundraising for the organization.
James “Jim” Mulvaney’s involvement in numerous nonprofit boards and organizations for 50 years would later be recognized by United Way with the creation of the James F. Mulvaney Community Leadership Award. This award is given to exceptional local leaders who have demonstrated long-lasting service to the San Diego community.
As we look back at our history, we are reminded of two things. The first is that we must always be willing to adapt to meet the demands of our time. Our team is proud to have launched the Worker Assistance Initiative to meet the needs our neighbors who have experienced job loss or reduction of wages as a result of COVID-19. Secondly, the change that we instituted at United Way in the 1960s laid the groundwork for the organization that we are today. Our strength is derived from our partnerships, and this year alone we will align over one hundred partners, to leverage resources and transform lives.
We hope you will partner with us by giving your time, treasure, or talent to help continue supporting the critical needs of our community.
Written by: Alli Temnick, Senior Development Executive, UWSD
United Way of San Diego County is celebrating our Centennial by looking back over our 100 year history. Each month this year, we have considered a different decade and United Way’s role in it. To continue this trend, we are taking a look at the 1950s in April. You may be surprised by some of the parallels between life in the 1950s and our lives today.
In the United States, the 1950s were marked by concerns about polio – an infectious disease that was spread from one person to another. As numbers surged in the early 1950s, families grappled with anxiety and fear about what the future might hold. Fortunately, Jonas Salk (who spent the later part of his life in San Diego County) discovered one of the first successful polio vaccines. Years later, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies opened in La Jolla to give future scientists opportunities that he was deprived of earlier in his life. Because of his legacy, scientific research and vaccine development continues here in San Diego County.
Another key marker of the 1950s was the rise of consumerism. Increased media created a desire for more that left many families feeling strapped for cash. The first credit card was introduced in 1950 and the concept increased in prominence throughout the decade. This phenomenon created an increasing awareness of the need for financial literacy – an issue that United Way of San Diego County has focused on over the years.
Building upon our history, United Way of San Diego County continues to promote financial literacy and family stability for San Diego residents. One way in which we advocate for financial literacy is by leading the Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition which offers free tax preparation to individuals and families who qualify. Just last year, the Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition helped return $47,000,000 in federal and state refunds to San Diego County residents. We are proud to lead this important work to help families receive tax refunds and credits that they deserve.
Additionally, with the spread of the novel Coronavirus, many local families are struggling with anxiety about their health and financial situations, much like they did in the 1950s. Over the last few weeks, we have heard directly from thousands of low-wage workers who have been laid off or had their hours cut as businesses adjust during this crisis. In response, United Way of San Diego County created a Worker Assistance Fund that will pay utility bills, rent, and mortgage payments for low-wage earners who are struggling during this increasingly difficult time.
We are proud of our legacy of supporting financial literacy and family stability throughout the region. Will you join us?
“I really enjoyed volunteering with United Way for Read Across America. I think it’s an amazing program to participate in because it highlights the importance of community and youth engagement, as well as the valuable habit of reading. Overall, it was a great time, and I can’t wait to volunteer again,” exclaimed Jamie Kuehner, volunteer.
As we approached the third month of our Centennial Celebration, we could not think of a better way to celebrate than by expanding our Read Across America outreach. March 2nd marks the birth of Theodor Seuss Geisel, commonly known as Dr. Seuss, the author of many children’s books, and is nationally recognized as Read Across America Day. Each year, companies and individuals from across San Diego County volunteer with United Way of San Diego County (UWSD) to read with local students to promote and celebrate literacy in honor of Dr. Seuss’s Birthday. This year, in conjunction with our Centennial Celebration, UWSD extended the Read Across America celebration to a full week and also led a region-wide book drive to spark the love of reading among children in our community.
UWSD knows the key to early childhood success is literacy. Students who can’t read well by third grade are four times less likely to finish high school on time. In San Diego Unified School District alone, 24% of low-income 4th graders are reading proficient, 34 points lower than their counterparts (58% of non-low income students are proficient). That number jumps to six times less likely to graduate for students who come from low-income neighborhoods.
That’s why this year, in partnership with Warwick’s bookstore, GEICO, Holman Enterprises, San Diego Council on Literacy, and San Diego County Credit Union (SDCCU), we expanded our reach to increase our impact across the region.
Individuals were encouraged to donate new children’s books for the cause. Donations sites included Warwick’s in La Jolla, all SDCCU branch locations, UWSD, and several corporate partners’ offices. The accessibility to mulitple donation sites helped us collect over 1,000 new books for our summer initiative Readers in the Heights.
Did you know? During the 30s, Theodor Seuss Geisel published these famous Dr. Seuess books: Horton Hatches the Egg (1940), McElligot’s Pool (1947), Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose (1948), and Bartholomew and the Oobleck (1949). In addition, to Dr. Seuss’s success, here is a look back into UWSD’s history in the 30s. Patriotic San Diegans responded with unprecedented generosity, pushing the War Chest over the $1 million mark in 1943.
Stay tuned as we continue to celebrate our 100th year leading up to our Gala on 10/10/2020.
To continue our Centennial Celebration, board member and Tocqueville donors David and Marti Andrews hosted an intimate event at the Santaluz Clubhouse on Thursday, February 20th. The beautiful outdoor event space, coupled with perfect weather and a stunning sunset, made for an incredible backdrop. Guests included United Way board members, Tocqueville donors, and members of the executive leadership team at National University. Board Chair Rich Pattenaude warmly welcomed guests, along with host David Andrews, and our President and CEO, Nancy Sasaki.
Each month this year, we will highlight a different decade since United Way of San Diego County was founded in 1920. This month, we focused on the 1930s. In the 1930s, United Way of San Diego County went by the name Community Chest and used the tagline, “This is the chest – that raises the money – that helps our neighbors – that builds for the future – a better community for all of us.” Community is not only a place, but it’s the sense of fellowship among others, as a result of sharing common interest and goals. United Way aims to not only support the children, young adults, and families in our community, but to share the goals and passions of our organization. Community Chest posters from the 1930s were framed and displayed at the event. In the 1930s, the Community Chest raised over $2,000,000 to support the local community – which would be over $38,000,000 in today’s dollars!
Additionally, the 1930s were marked by a few other exciting developments, including the end of Prohibition (1933) and the launch of chocolate treats like Snickers (1930), Mars Bars (1932), Kit Kats (1935), and Rolos (1937). To celebrate, our guests enjoyed a wine and chocolate pairing hosted by Eclipse Chocolates.
We hope you will continue to travel through the decades of our history as we celebrate United Way of San Diego County’s contributions to society over the last 100 years, and that you will be compelled to help us be even more impactful in the future. Please keep an eye out for announcements for our monthly Centennial events leading up to our Gala on 10/10/2020.